Product returns are kind of like doing business in reverse—rather than selling an item and getting paid for it, you’re paying a customer to return a product that you were trying to offload in the first place. So it makes sense that a lot of business owners (especially in e-commerce) stress about returns and the reverse logistics involved.
What’s important to keep in mind is that, ideally, your business should be focused on meeting the needs of the customer. And if your company isn’t meeting those needs effectively, they’re going to start looking somewhere else. So even though there are costs involved in accepting returns and issuing refunds, it’s an investment in your customers—who frequently prove their loyalty to your excellent service with repeat purchases.
In other words, a well-handled returns process stands to increase brand loyalty and boost revenues.
Have a Clear, Hassle Free Return Policy
The first step to building that loyalty is by being upfront with the customer. An easy-to-find returns policy that’s written in plain language will be appreciated. Let them know exactly what they can return, under what circumstances, and what they stand to gain from returning the item (like a refund, or store credit). Don’t hide the policy on some corner of your website, and don’t bog it down in legal jargon. Make it easy to understand, and be gracious rather than strict.
Don’t Make the Return Process Difficult for the Customer
Even if the policy is easy to understand, no one likes it if making the return is a pain. If it’s an online store, there’s shipping to be considered, and your customers hated paying for shipping the first time. Seriously consider eating the shipping cost; you’ll win some serious brownie points that way.
For in-store returns, avoid the interrogation. Give them a chance to explain why they’re returning it, but don’t be invasive with the questions. Let them make their return and be on their way.
Make the Return Process Easy for Your Business
This still leaves you with what to do with the product when it comes back to you. Reverse logistics can be pretty complicated and costly if it’s not handled right. If you don’t feel like your team has the expertise or the time to handle the arduous task, consider outsourcing it to some professionals. Often, they can do the work faster and cheaper than you can (especially if you’re a small startup).
In a nutshell, returns don’t have to be as bad as we make them out to be. If you’re willing to work with your customers find the right team to help process returns, you can turn it all into a powerful loyalty-building tool. For more information on how ateam can make returns easier for your business, contact the pros at Elite Ops.